عيد الاضحى eid al-adha
This past week our program slowed down considerably because, along with the rest of the country, all of Qasid’s employees celebrated the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha. In the lunar Islamic calendar, this is the ordained time of year to remember Abraham offering up his son as sacrifice, only to be relieved of that commandment by an angel. A significant difference between Christianity/Judaism and Islam, of course, is that Muslims believe it was Ishmael on the altar. Historical differences aside, it is a fun time of year to be here in Jordan. Tons of people come out the morning of Eid al-Adha and take part in a special prayer as families to remember their father Abraham and his faithfulness.
This also means that no one works for most of the week, including Qasid employees, so our BYU program had a slow week with a much lighter study load for the students than usual. It turned out to be excellent timing for a lot of people who started feeling sick or who needed extra time to catch up, myself included! Besides getting some R&R, we’ve been busy this week with a couple events.
Since the whole city is on vacation, the streets tend to be overrun with shabaab, teenagers and young single men who wander around in packs looking for something to do. We have a program rule during the Eid requiring that all females on the program be escorted by a male in public, since a lone American girl or a group of American girls tend to draw the attention of bored shabaab roaming the streets. This meant, of course, that Joy couldn’t go out alone this week at all, so whenever I was around we tried to go out if I wasn’t too sick. Our destination of choice this week: sweet shops!
About a 15 minute downhill walk (with kids) is a decent shopping district along a main street, and there are two sweet shops within a couple blocks of each other. We managed to visit both of them this week, trying their kanafa, ma’amul, and haresa. Arab sweets are great for anyone with a sweet tooth- everything is drizzled with a thin sugary syrup! My personal favorite is definitely the kanafa, whic
h is made with a thin layer of CHEESE on the bottom. Nicole, ahem. Perhaps the best part of all, however, is that they are super cheap. No more than a couple dollars to get dessert for the whole family!
catholic church dedication
BYU and the church have recently had some very positive interactions with Christian churches in Jordan (specifically the Greek Orthodox and Catholic churches), and this Thursday we had a truly unique opportunity to be present at and offer some service during the dedicatory mass of a new Catholic church in a suburb of Amman called Marj al-Hamaam. The Arab clergy and worshippers of Amman gathered at the new church about 5pm and held a marathon 2-hour service with a choir and organ, a band with drums and bass guitar, a bag-pipe group outside, fireworks, and loads of kanafa for everyone (which the BYU students served to everyone on huge platters). For me it was a huge combination of so many different cultures!
The kids got into the spirit of things, too. When they weren’t outside following closely on the heals of the church staff bringing out incense, they were walking up and down the pews or playing with other kids in the courtyard. 🙂 Really though, they were great considering how long it went and how late it was. They even got over their shyness and sat alone with some students on the bus ride home. Travelling has been good for getting them out of their shell, I think.
work as usual
Like I’ve said in previous posts, most of the week was actually spent at Qasid working on grading, carrying out interviews, or trying to focus on writing for my research project. “Trying” is the key word! Sometimes in order to clear my head and get out of the office I’ll slip out of the office when students go to lunch and follow them to a local falafel shop called Hamadeh’s. It served me well when I came on the program for the first time as a student all the way back in 2012. The sweet shop next to it has closed, unfortunately, but it looks like the falafel shop will be around for a while.